New pitches are town’s goal

Officials in a Norfolk market town are hoping to raise the participation rate and quality of grassroots football with plans for a £1m development on common land.

Officials in a Norfolk market town are hoping to raise the participation rate and quality of grassroots football with plans for a £1m development on common land.

Town leaders and club officials in Thetford and county Football Association (FA) chiefs are working hard to improve facilities in the town with proposals to create eight grass pitches at Barnham Cross Common.

The scheme aims to address a lack of quality football pitches in the area by fencing off part of the common, sandwiched between Charles Burrell High School and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), to create new 11-a-side pitches, mini youth pitches, changing rooms and a potential floodlit training area.

However, Thetford Town Council must first get permission from the government to build on the common, off Bury Road or to deregister the area as common land.


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Susan Glossop, town manager, who has been working on the project for the last year, said she was hopeful that football pitches would return to the land after an absence of more than 10 years, providing that the government's commons and greens planning inspectorate gave the go-ahead. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we want to take it forward because we are desperately short of sporting facilities for this town,” she said.

Gavin Lemmon, county development manager for Norfolk FA, said the project, which could cost from £500,000 to nearly £1m with floodlighting, could be partly funded by the Football Foundation - a charity formed by the government, the FA, Premier League, and Sport England, to improve community facilities and increase participation and quality in the grassroots of the game.

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He added that all of Thetford's senior, youth and veteran teams were behind the plans, which could cause grumblings among dog walkers and environmentalists.

“For the size of Thetford, it is underperforming in regards to the number of football teams that it has and the young population in the town.”

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